Every summer I escape the worst of Antalya ‘s heat and travel to the U. S. to visit friends and family. The other day I was at the beach with a few friends and Yusuf suggested having a going-away party for me. Last year my friends from the Antalya Expat Social Group gathered in Kaleici on my last night. I didn’t really feel like heading downtown this year, so I suggested we just have our regular Tuesday couchsurfing meeting be my send-off. But Yusuf said he wanted to do something especially for me. So we decided to get together on Wednesday evening on the beach in my neighborhood.
Unfortunately, not everyone was available Wednesday evening. Most Turks work long hours, six days a week. But Eda, a doctor, sometimes has to work evenings. So I had to say goodbye to Eda on Tuesday night. (Eda is responsible for my only evening at the Turkish theater this year. I go to the Symphony almost every week, but the theater requires a bit more effort, both because it’s on the other side of town and because my Turkish is still not good enough to understand everything. Fortunately, this performance was of Brecht’s Mutter Courage, which I’d already read in German and seen in English.)
After the group broke around 10:30 Tuesday night, Yusuf and I went for a walk towards the music playing. Apparently, every night during Ramazan the city of Antalya offers a free concert at the outdoor theater in Karaalioglu Park.
How is it I’ve lived here three years without knowing that? (Maybe because for most of the last three Ramazans I’ve been out of the country?) Anyway, it was a nice surprise; a festive event marred only by a hair-pulling fight among some young women who had to be separated by bystanders.
The performer was Mehmet Erdem who sings and plays the saz, a traditional Turkish plucked string instrument. Yusuf tells me he’s very famous. In his rock band were the usual electric guitar, bass and drums, but there were also Trumpet, Saxophone and Clarinet. It was rock music that at times sounded like a Mariachi band, and at other times like a Klezmer group.
I would have enjoyed this interesting concoction even more if the music hadn’t been amplified beyond the capacity of the speakers, resulting in distortion in addition to a decibel level dangerous to anyone with functioning eardrums. But that’s Turkey. It seems people here can’t enjoy a concert or a party unless the music is painfully loud.
I also would have enjoyed the concert more had I not been standing in a large crowd on a hot night, but it was still a nice surprise. After the concert Yusuf and I walked to Dogu Garaji for our respective buses home. By the time I walked home from the bus stop I was exhausted, and I was glad we’d agreed to meet on the beach the following evening rather than in hot, sticky Kaleici.
The next day I spent mostly at the pool at my apartment, but when I walked to the beach at 8:30 in the evening it was still so hot I had to jump right in. Not only that, the sea isn’t even cold anymore. It was barely cool enough to be refreshing, but it was comfortable sitting on the beach sopping wet, with the slight breeze.
We didn’t stay too late because people needed to catch buses home. But I was home in a couple of minutes, because Billy, who brought the music, also brought his motorbike. Thanks to everyone who made this the perfect farewell party, and especially to Yusuf, who brought us all together by organizing the Tuesday meetings.Google+